And this one is the best.
In chapter 13 Hosea begins talking about the ransom from Sheol and what is to be made more clear in this chapter, but we finally get to reach the final plea to return to he LORD.
This final plea is beautiful not because it makes His case any more clearly, or adds another degree of interesting analogy, but because it’s like the wish that God is having. It’s the dream in the heart of the forsaken one of the happy ending that never will be.
The even better part of this is that as Christians we have Revelation, so we know that this bittersweet happy ending that looks like cannot happen is the reality for all those who chose Him. We can look to the ultimate future and see Christ in His fullness.
Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. v. 1
This chapter is chock full of promises for the confessionaly repentant heart. The language is first that is repentance, and then forgiveness. A verbal confession presupposes the poetry of the depth of God’s forgiveness of His people. His love.
Again we see the language that has been there from the beginning. The strong presence of the hand of God in the working out of the all the pieces of Israel’s turning back to Him. When you know that Israel is indeed carried off into Asyrria to not return for hundreds of yearsthis indeed seems like the shadow of a lovers dream in this chapter. When God says “I will heal their apostasy” (v. 4) we can easily see this as a failure to accomplish this in their lives. Yet, verse 8 is the reminder. God has nothing to do with Idols.
This is only a sign of our lack of vision if we stay there. When we read through chapter 14 we see Christ and heaven, we see faith and of course judgement, we see the gospel.
Verse 9 is a helpful reminder of what it takes to look into these things. If you are wise and discerning you will look into these things. The upright can walk in them, but the transgressors stumble in them. That is why the prescribed judgement was finished here for Israel. God played out what was promised against them as a picture of justice. He also brought them back to himself as a picture of mercy.
The best part of the chapter, I think, is verses 4 through 7. These are the hopeful and poetic verses that look forward to the days of blessing. Here are where the lovely word pictures take us to heaven with Him.
God will be like the dew for us, the dew that so gently feeds the tender growing plants. That’s the way I prefer to water my garden, through a soaker hose so it won’t beat down upon the growth, or injure my more tender sprouts. And how will we respond:
blossom like the lily
whose beauty and fragrance was known far and wide. The lily was a flower of blessing.
take root like the trees of Lebanon, and fragrance like Lebanon
Legendary for their strength, and saught after for their beauty in construction. A fragrant wood that would last lifetimes.
shoots shall spread out
there will be more, the blessing is contagious, almost as “the world will be blessed through you”
beauty like the olive
the heart of the middle east revolves around this versitle plant. They are unique and necessary among the people.
God is then compared to a sheltering shadow for the people to dwell under. He will keep them safe from the blazing heat of life and the burn out that comes from striving. No one can take the heat all the time, and to have shade when you need it, from the fire of life, is a lovely way to think of the goodness of God. And how will we resopnd:
flourishing like the grain
Again the life of the land is His people, who do better with the nurturing of a caring hand.
blossom like the vine
Which produces its fruit in season. I especially like the reminder of the bearing of fruit that only comes under the dirsction and blessing of God.
fame as the wine of Lebanon
More talk of the fame of the people of God who are living in the blessing of His love. But this fame from the hill country is one of fruit again, not strength. The emphasis seems to be more on the nurturing that God will give them as opposed to the strength they have been reaching for in their other lovers (false gods, other countries, their own pride).
What will we say than?
Now that we have reached the end of this road. God has finished His story of warning and judgement and blessing and forgiveness. What will we take away from this at the end of it all? Do we feel condemnation, or hope? Peace or fear? Our answer comes from where we consider our heart to be. Lets not let this fall on ears that are tuned for what they want to hear, but on a heart that is ready for the instruction of the Lord. Lets hede the final warning of the book of Hosea and seek to be wise, discerning, and upright.
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but the transgressors stumble in them. v. 9